Jaden Krauser, a standout athlete who recently graduated from Mercer Island High School (MIHS), has been playing soccer for most of his life.
It started with recreational soccer (his dad, Jary, was his coach) as a youngster, moved into Mercer Island Select, then into the premier level.
The 2020-21 school year was set to be a particular breakthrough for the athlete. Krauser would be the team captain for his high school’s soccer team, on which he had been a varsity player for the last three years.
The responsibility came shortly after a stint as the cross country team’s lead earlier in the school year, as well as a four-year-long stretch as a coach with the Mercer Island Football Club. Both experiences, Krauser said, helped hone his leadership and coaching skills; he credits the infectious sense of camaraderie as driving his love for the sport.
But only about two weeks into the season, plans were curtailed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The team’s first game was slated for that week. Then it was unceremoniously canceled.
“When the pandemic happened, it was kind of just, like, ‘well, we’ll stop practices — we might be back next week; we don’t really know,’” Krauser said. “Then we just took it week by week. We had some bonding — a couple video chats with the team. Then they said the season wouldn’t resume. It kind of ended from there.”
It was an unexpected, somewhat anticlimactic end to a long soccer career for Krauser, who will be attending Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in the fall with an intent to get into its business school. Despite not being able to showcase it with a conventional season, Krauser’s hard work was still notably recognized recently.
In a May 5 statement, his coach, Forrest Marowitz, whom Krauser credits for playing “a big part helping me out throughout the last two years,” raved not only about Krauser’s aptitude on the field but also his generosity as a teammate.
“Anyone who spends three years on the varsity roster is certainly a talented player, and Jaden is no exception to that,” Marowitz wrote. “His game is very well rounded, and because of that, he can thrive at many different positions in the field…But what truly makes Jaden a standout player is the character he brings to training every day. Hard-working, unselfish, always excited to take on a challenging assignment.”
Krauser was particularly surprised when, after the soccer season had been officially canceled, he received a personal message from Jordan Morris, a forward for the Seattle Sounders.
“They felt bad for some people in the KingCo league — the captains — and so they asked if the Sounders could do some videos for a couple people,” Krauser explained. “I got a video [from Morris] saying that he was really sorry that the season was over.”
Morris additionally wished Krauser good luck at PSU, and acknowledged how disappointing it must be not to play as planned.
“It was a really nice video,” Krauser said.
Although Krauser won’t be playing with the university in the fall — the roster as it stands is currently full — he is hoping to join the team eventually. If that doesn’t happen, Krauser said, the school has a renowned club program he’s interested in joining.
When asked where he envisions himself down the road — 10 years ahead, for instance — Krauser said that he wants to “definitely be involved in the stock market” and living on the East Coast, preferably in New York. He wants to in some way be involved with soccer; he hopes to coach his future kids — just like his dad did him all those years ago at the formative recreation level.
“I will definitely be part of their sports experience,” Krauser said.